The Future is Ours

Crane DawnI was on a flight from Hong Kong to New York recently when I realized something that could change my life forever. How little time we spend actually thinking. I don’t mean worrying about the trivia that fills our minds with useless thoughts every moment of the day. I mean stopping for a considered time to clear our minds of meaningless nonsense and to think about something different, something perhaps bigger than who we are today or the contribution we could make to this life.

And it started me thinking about the ambition of my youth and for a moment I was sad and lost and then I simply thought of something that filled me with an overwhelming sense of exhilaration. The thought that ambition is not over until we choose to give it up. And it is our choice whether we live this life with the thoughts of something bigger or lose ourselves in the everyday minutiae of nothing at all.

By thinking about something – writing a novel, starting a business, a charitable cause or whatever it may be – we have a proven chance of achieving it. But all the time we have meaningless arguments inside our heads, reliving the past or worrying about things we cannot change, we are wasting something vital that could change our lives forever – using our minds to create a beautiful and more enriched future.

So now, I am banishing any thought that has no purpose, the internal nonsense that goes around and around and burns up the most important development of evolution, the ability to think for ourselves.

It has taken six billion years to evolve us to where we are today, with the most developed brain of any species. The limbic brain and the neocortex, 3 lbs of jelly that represents the absolute pinnacle of evolution. We can use it to play Candy Crush all day or change the world we live in. In the end it is down to thought and motivation – and the other great gift we have. The gift of freedom of choice.

Don’t waste it.

I have been writing again after many months of absence and I feel thrilled that once challenged, our minds come forward with a mass of creativity, of invention, of wonder. I’m now half way through writing a new book and I feel more excited than at any time in my life.

Be excited for all that can be rather than worried about all that may be or all that was. We have been gifted the greatest thinking machine of evolution, the human mind. And we need to use it.

The future is waiting to be created. And it is all ours.

The Habits that Kill Us

LeapingHabit keeps us exactly where we are and imagination frees us. But for all of our adult lives, we form more and more habits and routines and close our imaginations to the endless possibilities of our existence.

Habits simplify our lives and allow us to travel through this world unconsciously. So we take the same route to work everyday, we watch the same movies, and wear the same clothes. But those are meaningless, harmless habits. There are far more dangerous habits.

The most talked about habit that kills people is smoking. But in reality, the habits that confine us to a self-imposed prison, when we could have achieved so much more, kill us much more effectively—they are the habits that kill us inside, while we remain alive.

Negative beliefs are the habits that imprison us. Perpetuating beliefs that we are not capable of something because that is what we have been taught and have come to know.

As a young man, I had social anxiety disorder and the thoughts of meeting new people or making a speech filled me with terror. And I allowed that terror to imprison me for years. Then I met the greatest boss I ever had and he would never listen to my protests that I couldn’t do something. He would simply say, “Yes, you can.”

And it’s because he wouldn’t accept my excuses that I found myself making a speech to 900 people in the banqueting hall of the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York. I couldn’t sleep for days before and I couldn’t eat. But as I listened to the applause at the end of my thirty-minute speech, I experienced the greatest high of my professional life.

Yes, you can.

Innocence unbounds our imaginations. That’s why we should protect the innocence of children for as long as we can. But as we grow into adults, so we are steadily stripped of our innocence and our imaginations begin to form limits. As we satisfy ourselves with the comfort of routine, we expertly develop the habits of our beliefs.

And as the years go by, we allow those habits to kill us.

We all need someone in our lives who tells us that we can rather than we cannot. Someone to remind us that we are repeating the negative behaviors of our past. Someone to believe in the possibilities of our imaginations.

Even if that person is you.

I Have Decided to be Someone Else

RenewalI love it when people say you should just be yourself. Personally, I think that limits your options.

I don’t know about you, but my “self” was developed a long time ago and I’m not sure if that person is who I want to be today. For instance, from my childhood, I inherited my deepest fears, my hopes and dreams; from my youth, I found first love, ambition, ridicule and disappointment; and from adulthood I discovered reality, deception and betrayal. All of these experiences, and more, have created who I am—anxious, conformist and unfulfilled.

I have therefore decided to be someone else.

But there is a catch: I want to break up with myself but I’m not sure if I have the courage to move on. It’s ironic how our deepest fears live with us forever but life kills our hopes and dreams.

The person I have given the most advice to in my life is myself. Clearly, it is now time that I start listening. So I am going to take it a step at a time. Firstly, I’m going to visualize the person I want to be. I admit that being two inches taller may be unachievable at this stage in my life but most other things are up for grabs. I am going to imagine every detail of what it would be like to be my ideal self. Then I am going to do something different every single day that takes me to where I want to be.

That’s it.

So if you don’t recognize me soon or think that I have really changed, then I’m on my way. And if you take my advice and do the same thing, then we can all be strangers together in our new world.

There may be no time like the present; but there can be no more exciting place to live in than a better future.

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